Carbon credits mean a boost in revenue

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerCountryman
Trevor Hodshon, pictured with the young Mulga
Camera IconTrevor Hodshon, pictured with the young Mulga

WA pastoralists will for the first time earn money from carbon farming projects, after being awarded $47.5 million from the latest round of the Federal Government’s $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund.

The Clean Energy Regulator released results of its seventh auction this week, identifying 15 WA pastoralists’ projects as successful bidders.

The State’s pastoralists totalled more than half the auction amount of $90 million.

Partnership for the Outback alliance spokesman David Mackenzie said WA pastoral leases had, until now, been excluded from the lucrative carbon farming industry and denied the income and regeneration benefits enjoyed by other States because policy did not allow for it.

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However, years of lobbying by pastoralists and conservation organisations, and more recent efforts by Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan have made the successful bids to make carbon projects possible.

Ms MacTiernan announced in April that carbon farming could be possible in WA by having the State Government, as landlord, give its in-principle support and back several pilot sequestration offset projects which focused on grazing strategies that increase regeneration of native vegetation, enabling the pastoralists to take part in the ERF reverse auction.

Trevor and Carol Hodshon, who run Atley Station, east of Mt Magnet in the Murchison, said it was a huge relief to learn that a proposal for a native mulga regeneration project on their property was successful.

Mr Hodshon said he was on the brink of sourcing work off the station, but the added income from carbon farming meant he could now redirect efforts into the property they had owned for 15 years.

Atley started as a sheep station but wild dogs got the better of them by killing too many sheep, so they turned to cattle, which had been a costly exercise.

“Under the carbon farming project, stock will be encouraged into other areas, leaving the mulga to grow, and once funding is received, fencing would be erected to exclude stock,” Mr Hodshon said.

The income would reduce mental stress on the couple and enable them to replenish depleted savings.

Mr Mackenzie said these carbon contracts represented the first dividends to emerge from the WA Government’s efforts to reform the rangelands.

At the centre of reform discussions for decades has been the creation of a new form of tenure called a rangelands lease, which enables diversification into activities such as tourism and more complex carbon farming.

“Carbon farming not only provides a chance for pastoralists to diversify their income and secure their livelihoods, it also enables the regeneration of bush across millions of hectares of degraded landscapes in the outback,” Mr Mackenzie said.

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